In years past, measles outbreaks could always be assigned clearly defined locations: a boarding school in Pennsylvania, a Waldorf school in the German Rhein-Erft district, a student dormitory in Freiburg, Germany, or even – as in the fall last year –a dog show in Slovenia. Those who had no contact with these places and facilities frequently considered themselves to have, at least relative, safety. However, the measles epidemic currently taking place in the United States is waking us from that general understanding with clarity: Measles respect no borders, neither the walls of a school, nor the entrance to a children’s café.
Since the beginning of the year, Americans have counted more than 80 cases in 14 states. Two Californian Disneyland theme parks are associated with the infections, places where thousands spend their vacations – locals and tourists alike. In addition, cases have occurred that could not be linked with the hordes in California. Accordingly, a heated public debate, shaped by fear, has broken out in the United States. In some towns, the unvaccinated with symptoms have already been encouraged to stay at home.
Berlin Is Also Affected
As of yet, the new debate about vaccination skepticism is confined to the United States — even though there is currently a case of measles in Berlin. Apparently, Germany has an epidemic which began in Bosnia and Herzegovina last February, and which has now reached the German capital, says the German Medical Journal. Up to now, 375 people have reported infections, “Of these, 82 cases [were reported] alone in the fourth week of 2015.” The first to have been affected were asylum seekers. Meanwhile, however, cases have also occurred in Berlin’s general population, said the Robert Koch Institute.
The debate in the United States has started rolling. It is now apparent to many people that this rapid spread no longer has anything to do with those ominous “measles parties,” which seem to be little more than an urban legend. It is not clear if the anti-vaccination parents throw these parties to enable a “natural” infection. What is clear, however, is that there is a deep-seated skepticism about vaccinations in America, as well as in Germany. In a professional conference, California’s Department of Health explained that 82 percent of the infected people in the West Coast’s Golden State were not vaccinated. The current issue of the British Medical Journal states that “six were too young for the vaccination, and the rest were intentionally not vaccinated.”* Those infected in California are estimated to be between seven months and 70 years old.
This makes the disastrous effect of the outbreak distinctly clear: Namely, school children cannot independently decide for or against vaccinations, rather their parents take the responsibility of this decision for them. Even parents who want to vaccinate their children can’t help the youngest: The first measles vaccination can be administered when a child is 11 months old, and the vaccination is complete when the second dose is administered around the child’s second birthday. Even the recovery of an infected baby can be deceptive; because a late consequence of the infection is a chronic inflammation of the brain, children can still die from the infection years later.
Now that the medical details of the acute risk of measles are more publicly known in America, it may, in the long-term, change the minds of more vaccination skeptics than the information campaigns.
About this publication